When we found out we were going to have a baby in 1971, Jim gained a new sense of urgency. Fearful that this was his last chance to “make it” in the music business, he wrote “Time In a Bottle.”
That same week he composed and recorded “Operator, (That’s not the Way it Feels), “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” and “Photographs and Memories” and put the songs on a cassette to send to his producers in New York City. Shortly after they received his new songs, Jim was back in Manhattan, recording his first gold album.
His producers introduced him to “BNB” management and ABC Dunhill Records and Jim Croce recorded his first commercial hit “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.” Things were moving quickly. On September 28, 1971, Jim helped deliver our son, Adrian James, a week later, he was on the road.
From 1971 to 1973, Jim played about 300 concerts a year, and promoted his songs all over the United States and Europe. By the Spring of 1973, Jim’s second album “Life and Times,” topped the charts. There were offers of sound tracks, movie deals with Cheech and Chong and The Johnny Carson show asked Jim to be a summer replacement for Johnny. From the time BNB managed Jim Croce, he was on the cover of Magazines and News Papers. This Cash Box article from March 10, 1973, cost just $1.25, and it was packed full of popular song charts and tasty articles.
Then shortly after A.J. was born, I became pregnant again, and we decided to make the move to San Diego, California. With all Jim’s traveling, I wanted to leave the lonely farm, move closer to an airport, have next-door neighbors and grow vegetables year round.
But while Jim was on tour in Europe, serious complications during childbirth caused the death of our second son Max, and interrupted my pregnancy at 7 1/2 month. Deeply saddened by our loss, Jim returned a new man and devoted himself to A.J. and me.
In September 1973, we were reunited in San Diego for the best time together I can could remember in a long while. We walked on the beaches and downtown along the harbor. We were so happy. Catching up on the past two years, planning our future, our family and looking for a good place to eat. Then, Jim left for a week to do a quick tour, anxious to return home for Adrian James’ second birthday.
On September 20th, 1973, Jim died in a plane crash while on tour in Natchitoches, LA. I was devastated. As a widow and a single parent at age 26, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do.